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By William H. Benson

Vaclaf Smif


August 31, 2022

Vaclav Smil was born in 1943, during World War II, in Czechoslovakia, in the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. As a teenager, Smil's parents expected him to chop wood, every four hours, to keep the fires burning in the house's three stoves, “one downstairs and two up.”

One writer suspected that Smil may have thought then that “this is hardly an efficient way to live.”

A bright student, with a strong work ethic, Smil left his small hometown in the Bohemian forest and made his way to Charles University, in Prague, the capital, where he studied natural sciences, “35 classes...

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